The “paurANic” element of the pashchimAmnAya

In the days after the fierce battle of dvAdashAnta, after we had overthrown the kR^ityAstra that struck us, we were resting in the city of the karnATa-s. There while meditating on the aghora mantra we experienced that connection with samayA and kubjIshAna. That great bhairava, who is navAtman, appeared in the li~Nga briefly manifesting that indescribable luster of the pashchimAmnAya. Through the utter darkness we saw the path of the mantra vidyA.


The atharvavedins developed a connection with the pashchimAnAya, as a result of which they acquired certain practices related to their tantric worship as well as laukIka worship and mythography. The quest for these aspects of worship leads us to what may be termed the “paurANic” aspects of the pashchimAmnAya. While the agni-purANa has assimilated a large amount of pashchimAmnAya material it does not really preserve any of the unique and distinctive paurANic material of this tradition. The paurANic material of kubjikAmata represents a variant that is not found in any of the surviving purANa-s I have acquainted myself with. Instead the source of these materials is the kubjikAmata tantra (kulAlikAmnAya version), where they are provide as a frame material for the tantric narrative as well as 3 stotras that are used by the atharvavedins in laukIka stuti of kubjikA. Below are some paurANic tales of the tradition briefly summarized:

The tale of the origin of the pITha-s
The mountain lord himavant lived in his great realm of santAnabhuvana. The bhairava (navAtman) appeared in this realm and stood in silence for a while. The coming of kubjIshAna terrified the denizens of santAnabhuvana who appeared along with himavant to bow to him. himavant praises the bhairava with a stotra (the kubjIshAna stotraM) and asks to make himself comfortable as everything is the bhairava’s abode. He also offers that his daughter kAlikA would attend to his needs. After kAlikA spends a while with navAtman, he grants her a boon. She asks to become his wife, which the bhairava grants. Then kuleshvarI asks him the rahasyas, in reply to which bhairava reveals to her the siddhakrama, which he says is their common possession. He asks her to establish the tradition in bhAratavarsha by generating many successors. He asks kuleshvarI to go to kaumAraparvata and then the bhairava vanishes.

Struck by his disappearance and to search for her husband kuleshvarI proceeds to chandraparvata and ascends a beautiful rocky spur and absorbs to whole of existence into a li~Nga-like form called udyAna-bhairava. Now navAtman is irritated by the absorption of the universe and shouts that only chandraparvata is now left. So he goes there and praises the li~Nga, but she does not emanate. So, he praises her with the kubjikA daNDakam and she emerges from the li~Nga as samayA or kubjikA. She is surprised as to who can stand looking, saying that it is as difficult as facing a dreadful cobra. She then grants a boon to the bhairava, who asks her to keep her word to go to kaumAraparvata and generate the successors who would promulgate the pashchimAmnAya throughout bhArata-varSha. While she refuses initially, the bhairava eventually convinces her to do so.

Going to kaumAra parvata she creates a great forest with several li~Nga-s installed therein and with her toe she draws a line which becomes a great river. The she wandered in trikUTa, kiShkindha and himagahvara and founded the 4 pITha-s of oDDiyAna, jAlandhara, pUrNagiri and kAmarUpa. She then created a fifth pITha of mAta~nga (which is not on earth as per some accounts, in Himachal as per others). Then she returns to the bhairava after touring whole of bhArata-varSha. Then the bhairava asks her to promulgate the pashchimAmnAya starting from oDDiyAna in the extreme north-west of bhArata-varSha.

The kumAra tale of the pashchimAmnAya
As samayA was wandering over bhArata-varSha a drop of her sweat fell on the ground and generated the dreaded asura krau~ncha who caused much terror. The deva-s asked kAma to strike bhairava to induce him to dally with kubjikA. While he burns kAma, he does dally with his shakti and as result kumAra is born. Then the spear armed kumAra slays krau~ncha.
[Note the emphasis on krau~ncha as against tAraka or mahiSha of the usual kaumAra tradition.]

The narrative of the bhairava or the core tantra of the kubjikA tradition
The core elements of the kubjikA tradition are provided in the form of a usual tantric narrative embedded within the paurANic frame, which recedes into the background once the core issues are discussed. These include:
-The aSTavimshati krama: the 12 shloka-s, the pa~ncha ratna-s, the tadgraha and the 6-formed nyAsa.
-The key mantra of practice of the samayA vidyA is the complex mantra known as the umAmAheshvara-chakra KMT 5.1-33. The mantra itself has 3 sections. This is some ways like what the vyomavyApin mantra is for the Urdhvasrotas saiddhAntika-s.
-In attacking abhichArika practice the follower of the pashchimAmnAya uses the juShTachaNDAlI vidyA, which is one of the most effective prayogas.
-In the defensive mode he uses the rudra-kubjikA prayoga. As per the AVins associated with the kubjikA tradition rudra-kubjikA is the manifestation of pratya~NgirA.
-As we have mentioned before one of the highest sAdhana-s of the pashchimAmnAya is the prayoga of the sampUrNa-maNDala in which the great aghora aShTAkapAla is worshiped. Here every syllable of the mighty aghora mantra expresses itself.

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